Saturday 21 December 2019

A day of sunshine and showers produced a satisfactory rainbow.

Some of the large flock of Pochards rested under a tree at the edge of the Long Water ...

... but this drake alone on the Serpentine doesn't seem to be an ordinary Pochard.

His head is brown not ginger, his eye is more orange than  red, and he has a noticeable difference in colour between his back and sides where Pochards are a uniform colour here. Compare yesterday's picture of a normal Pochard in yesterday's blog post. My first thought was that it was a Pochard x Tufted Duck cross. We already have at least one female hybrid of this kind -- here's a picture I took earlier.

However, the Collins Bird Guide has a double spread of Aythya hybrids, and the picture there of a Pochard x Tufted drake doesn't look like the bird above. The closest resemblance to a picture in the book is to that of a Pochard x Ferruginous Duck hybrid. But I really don't know, and it might just be an odd Pochard.

One of the pair of Great Crested Grebes at the island rested near the shore. I think this is the male. He goes very pale in winter, but his mate remains darker and still with a bit of ginger on the head.

A visit to the Round Pond found the Black Swan working the crowds like any seasoned park swan.

Two Shoveller drakes on the Round Pond spun and dipped like mad. They must have very tough inner ear balance mechanisms to avoid getting dizzy.

Four Common Gulls chased a Black-Headed Gull and made it drop the bit of bread it was carrying. The second gull from the right had already caught it, but the chase went on just for the fun of the thing.

There was a Dunnock under the bushes in the Rose Garden ...

... and Robins all over the place, many of them singing including these two.

Their song cheers up the drab December soundscape and I always record them when I can, at the risk of being repetitive.

Another two were in the shrubbery next to the bridge.

The second one came down and took several pine nuts from my hand.

The very small flood beside the Long Water now has a third triangle warning of unspecified danger. It seems excessive for an easily avoided trickle from a blocked drain. Or does a Kraken lurk in the Long Water, ready to drag visitors in with its mighty tentacles?


  1. I have read stuff about the London Kraken, watch your step. Not to worry about repeat Robin songs: never too much. Same -for me- with Blackbird song. Should start soon , shouldn't it? I haven't heard any yet.

    1. I wrote 'Kraken' because it was an accessible reference, but I was thinking of that stark line in The Lord of the Rings, 'The Watcher in the Water took Óin.'

    2. PS: wouldn't expect a Blackbird for months, though a sunny day may start anything singing out of season.

    3. That Kraken, and I was thinking of China Mieville. I've heard blackbirds sing 'in the dead of the night' in late December/ January, but maybe they were confused by light pollution. An eerie and beautiful sound, though.

    4. I've heard a Blackbird break into sub-song last week, but I think it's an oddity as there has been no more song so far.

      I too thought of the Watcher in the Water instantly!

      The Black Swan sure does go around!

    5. Yesterday morning when it was sunny I heard a Great Tit and two rival Coal Tits singing, and I have often heard Song Thrushes on sunny days in December and January. Blackbirds seem more reluctant to sing out of season, and even in spring they start late and finish early.

  2. Probably an odd plumaged pochard. We have an odd eider male near us and it has fooled a lot of people and been mis-identified as all sorts.

    1. The main thing that makes me think it's a hybrid is the difference in colour between the back and sides, not a feature of an adult male Pochard.